Australia, Canada, Italy, and Sweden have become the latest countries to report their first confirmed cases of monkeypox, a rare viral disease typically limited to west and central Africa that has seen over two dozen cases reported and many more being investigated in several non-endemic countries over the past three weeks.
Australian officials on Friday confirmed its first monkeypox case, which involves a man in his 30s who arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, on May 16 after having traveled to the United Kingdom.
There is also a probable case in Sydney, New South Wales, involving a man in his 40s who recently traveled to Europe. Testing is being carried out to confirm the case.
Canada late on May 19 confirmed its first two cases of monkeypox, both of which were in Quebec. Earlier in the day, officials said 17 suspected cases in Quebec's greater Montreal region are being investigated.
The Italy case is a man who recently traveled to the Canary Islands in Spain. The person was being kept in isolation at the Spallanzani hospital in Rome. There are two other suspected cases that had yet to be confirmed, the hospital said.
Meanwhile, Sweden said its lone case involves a person in the greater Stockholm area who is not seriously ill but is receiving treatment. No other details were provided.
The first case of monkeypox outside of Africa was detected in the United Kingdom on May 6. The case, announced on May 7, is a patient who recently traveled to Nigeria, where he is believed to have caught the virus, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
France reported its first suspected case on May 19 in the Paris/Ile-de-France region.
Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but are milder. They include fever, headaches, and skin rashes that start on the face and spread to the rest of the body.
People can contract the disease through close contact with others who carry the virus, or with material contaminated with the virus.
"For purposes of controlling a monkeypox outbreak in the United States, smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used," the agency stated.